JNF pushes to aid ‘special’ soldiers


Seventy people from the Five Towns attended a breakfast on Sunday to learn more about the support being given by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) to Special in Uniform, an initiative that integrates young people with disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces.

“I am very proud that our community supports JNF, a wonderful organization that is doing important work for the people in Israel,” said Rabbi Hershel Billet of the Young Israel of Woodmere.

“I myself went to see this Special in Uniform program at an IDF base and I was extremely touched and moved to know that Israel’s great army also includes people with special needs and disabilities.” 

The breakfast was hosted by Jodi and David Pollack in their Woodmere home.

It is difficult enough to raise a child with special needs, but it is absolutely wrenching to know that once that Israeli child reaches the age of 18 he will need to confront his limitations in the harshest of ways — it’s been unlikely that he would ever be a soldier. It is one more way that those with special needs are taught that despite the best of intentions, the reality of calling their limitations “special” means they have something less than, not just different from, others.

Yossi Kahana, director of JNF Task Force on Disabilities, thanked those attending and said, “Special in Uniform is all about focus on the ability, not the disability. This program uses the talents of people with disabilities to help them do a better job, and I believe that everyone belongs and has the right to reach his or her fullest potential with an independent life and integration into the society regardless of their disabilities.”

Tiran Attia, a former IDF commander of Sar-El, a volunteer classification unit, who is now the director of the Special in Uniform program, invited the Five Towners to see the Specials in Uniform program in person during their next visits to Israel. 

Special in Uniform goes beyond the walls of IDF bases, helping its graduates integrate into the workforce and Israeli society in meaningful ways.

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